Blog from Cancun COP16 | Taarifa ya kutoka Cancun COP16

Communicating Climate Change Challenges

December 5, 2010 

I've attended two different events on communications and climate change here in Cancun. One might think that after years of "communicating" on such an issue, that these events would be loaded with success stories and words of wisdom from accomplished climate communicators. However, that is just not the case. Instead these events focus on the challenges of such a task and open with the question, "why is climate change still so hard to understand, still so foreign and scary to people and still left out of so many important conversations?"

Part of the problem is that there are so many variables involved. There are different audiences-youth, policy makers, rural communities; a vast number of subjects-economic implications, environmental impacts, vulnerability, adaptation, mitigation, REDD; and a host of communications tools-media, television, brochures, websites, meetings, etc. On top of that you have to navigate the jargon-MRV, PPM, feedback loops-and fight the climate skeptics. So communicating about climate change or issues related to climate change is not easy; however, it is absolutely essential if any positive change is to occur.

One event hosted by IIED at the Climate and Development Days presented a great opportunity for people from around the globe to discuss experiences they have had in this field. Bettie Luwege from the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG), spoke about her organizations work in communicating on REDD. TFCG has carried out communications projects that target different audiences-decision makers, the international community and community members who are involved in REDD. They have used different methods for the different audiences. They've worked hands-on with villages and sub-villages with theater groups and drummers to make the information more interactive and accessible. They have, with TNRF, produced a radio program on REDD, a film on REDD and a cartoon-style brochure, all of which has presented REDD in a format that is understandable to your average citizen. They have also worked in partnership with other NGO's on advocacy efforts, such as writing briefs and talking to decision makers.

Many people shared similar experiences to Betties. The event concluded with a synopsis that serves as a sort of climate change communications ‘tool-kit.'

1. You don't always need to focus on climate change to actually relay important messages about climate change.

2. It is essential to tailor your message to your various audiences and package information accordingly.

3. There can be a climate-overload of information, which tends to actually be counter effective. Instead, some of the most effective communications activities can be slow, tedious processes (eg. meetings, building relationships, networks).

4. Avoid linear forms of communications. Instead, it is most useful when people are engaged and can feel a part of the process.

5. Social media is an important tool that can be overlooked, especially in developing countries.

MRV in Tanzania - NAFORMA

December 5, 2010 

I was fortunate to attend another side event where Dr. Felician Kilahama was a panelist. The session, "Delivering emissions reductions in REDD+: Challenges for customizing MRV for national circumstances," was part of CIFOR's "Forest Day 4" conference.

Dr. Kilahama's presentation gave an overview of Tanzania's engagement in the NAFORMA National Forest Resource Monitoring Assessment) process. The NAFORMA process, which was supposed to begin in 2009, started late and it is now expected to be finished in 2012. Currently, roughly 30% of the country has been covered.
He began by saying Tanzania loses approximately 500,000ha of forest per year. However, this figure is not exact, and being that it is such an important piece of information for the country, it is important that it be verified. The purpose behind the NAFORMA, he explains, is to help Tanzania develop a reliable database of information that can help inform policies on REDD and on sustainable forest management plans. "Basically, we want to have a system of data management that will take us into a foreseeable future where we will be able to track the changes in carbon and how human activities are having an impact on those changes," he said. Working with UN-REDD, FAO and universities, they plan to have 3,400 sample plots that will cover a range of ecosystems and regions. They also plan to carry out 5,000 interviews with the people where these plots will be measured. "We want to know what people are saying about trees, climate change, forest, so that we can have a pathway to plan for such things," he explained.

There are some serious limitations to this process. The first, and probably most significant, is that there is a lack of specialized expertise needed for monitoring and measurements. For example, Tanzania's Forestry and Beekeeping Department has no technical expertise with remote sensing. Another limitation has been funding. Because the NAFORMA hopes to have collaboration with other sectors, the original funding provided by UN-REDD was not sufficient to cover that multi-sectoral approach. Other challenges have been linking with local initiatives and local communities, "it took a bit of time to link with the people who are in the villages." Overall, capacity building will be extremely important, and, as Kilahama stressed earlier in the week, funding will be absolutely essential.

Friday Night News - No Rest this Weekend

December 3, 2010 

I was quite fortunate to share dinner with an important insider on REDD negotiations for the African Group. In an informal meeting (closed) today, it was decided to move forward with the Chair's text (with a few alterations to be made this evening by the Chair and with a few options still braketed and up for consideration). Before the text if officially shared, there will be stock taking in the morning, which is an open plenary where outsiders have an opportunity to comment on the issues at hand. It is then likely that the text will be released tomorrow evening. General consensus by the NGO world is that this is a good sign of positive momentum (however, issues of goals for emissions targets and MRV in regards to safeguards remain unclear). My insider was very confident that there will be a decision on REDD made in Cancun, but said that any decision will wait until ministers arrive and final minutes remain.

Indigenous Peoples' Rights and REDD

December 3, 2010 

I attended an event today, "Addressing climate change and REDD+ using indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge and practices," which had the participation of panelists from Kenya, Indonesia and Nicaragua. When they opened the floor for questions, it was no surprise that the first was questioning the true desire of Indigenous Peoples' to be involved in REDD: "why don't Indigenous Peoples' just say no to REDD, as it's your land and your forests?" Typical Q & A protocol here has been to take at least three questions from the audience at one time before turning back to the panelists for their responses. However, after this first question, the moderator cut in and said, "this is the issue that keeps coming up," and so she turned to the panelists and gave each a change to address the issue.

Kenya: "This is a very interesting question and a common concern," said Joseph Ole Simel from Kenya. "As Indigenous People, we see REDD as an opportunity and as a threat." If implemented correctly, REDD could help improve governance issues or secure land tenure rights for indigenous peoples. However, the opposite could happen. If those issues aren't properly addressed it could instead encourage land grabbing and put more money in the hands of the elite. There are many issues to be addressed in regards to REDD, but the fundamental reason to be involved is because if indigenous peoples don't engage from the start, then "we believe the outcome of REDD activities will be much worse. So we'd rather engage then let it happen without us."

Indonesia: When the concept of REDD is shared with Indigenous Peoples', "their response is, ‘we're already doing REDD, so why do we need this project? Why don't they just leave us alone to our own systems because we're already doing that." It's true, explained the Indonesian participant, they already have the solutions on the ground, and so those solutions should be used in the negotiations. Of course, people would not reject the idea of receiving benefits for something they are already doing. In fact, they might say, "let's have it, but that's not our goal for forest conservation. Instead, the goals are to ensure clean water is still there, the animals are there for the people - their ‘supermarket' remains. Of course, they are not going to reject if people are going to give them something. Of course not."

Nicaragua: In 1987 a new law was passed, which gives authority and decision making privileges on natural resource issues to regional, decentralized authorities. Therefore, it is up to those authorities, those communities, whether they want REDD or not. These regions are experience pressure on their forests from agriculture and industry, but in the end, it is up to those areas "may it be REDD or another mechanism to deal with deforestation and degradation." As a nation, Nicaragua has not yet accepted REDD.

In sum: The moderator provided a nice summary - "it is our responsibility to lay down the facts of climate change, the various solutions to climate change, and to allow indigenous peoples themselves to make the decisions, because they are the people that will be effected." This is what Free, Prior and Informed Consent aims to do.


REDD Without Borders

December 2, 2010 

Today COMESA, SADC and EAC held a side event called "REDD without boundaries: a regional approach." There were representatives from Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania who spoke about REDD in their countries and the need to look beyond borders. The event drew a great crowd of Africans from these three economic regions - Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Namibia, Kenya and Zambia. The moderator Mr. David Lesolle from Botswana opened the event by explaining the purpose behind the gathering. "We want to brainstorm on these issues," he explained, "to find out what will be the regional priorities, what we should bring to the negotiating table and what we want to bring home with us."


Dr. Kilahama 

The first presentation was by Dr. Felician Kilahama, the National Director of Tanzania's Forestry and Beekeeping Department. Kilahama provided a brief overview of REDD in Tanzania-geographical overview, pilot project summary, framework, R-PP, Task Force and working closely with communities to make sure they are a part of the process. He emphasized that REDD should not just be about carbon, but should be about protection of biodiversity, ecosystems and water sources as well as a means for improved income and benefits to forest dependent communities. As he told me after the event, "communities must directly benefit from REDD, that is the absolute goal."

Although REDD has seen a rather good amount of momentum in Tanzania, especially compared to the other countries presenting as they were just getting started with REDD Readiness activities, Kilahama explained that there are many obstacles and challenges ahead. The main challenge that Tanzania, and the entire region, faces he said is that of funding. After Bali and the inclusion of REDD in the Bali Action Plan, Tanzania believed an international funding system would shortly follow. However, that has clearly not been the case. "I'll admit, it was a mistake," he said, "money is not yet flowing as we expected," and this presents a major challenge to Tanzania and to the communities who could greatly benefit from such funds. (I spoke with Kilahama after the event and he reiterated the need to come to an international agreement on funding mechanisms for REDD. He said he believes this would be the most important development to be made in the REDD negotiations.)

Other challenges include the need for greater political understanding and commitment, research capacity in regards to reference levels and methodology development, understanding of markets and other funding mechanisms, coordination of stakeholders, and addressing with one of the fundamental challenges of deforestation in the country, which is poverty. His final PowerPoint slide projected an image of thousands of wildebeest spread across the Serengeti plains-"if the benefits of REDD spread to communities the way wildebeest spread across the Serengeti, it will be a wonderful thing."


Vincent Kasulu, Director of Sustainable Development for the Ministry of Environment in DRC, spoke about the development of REDD in DRC. They are starting 7 government-led pilot projects, and they have five other projects that are being developed by NGO's and the private sector. The main challenges in DRC are related to the limited technical capacity and know-how for implementing alternatives to deforestation as well as working with a limited institutional capacity as at both local and national levels the development capacity is not strong. The government is taking a multi-sectoral approach to REDD, meaning REDD is not being implemented just by one Ministry, but instead REDD development is being done with other ministries assistance, such as the ministry of energy, agriculture and rural development. One example provided was a project being implemented with Ministry of Environment and Energy to introduce energy efficient cook stokes to communities to as an alternative to fuelwood. Similar to challenges faced in Tanzania, DRC is facing the task of maintaining political momentum for REDD, coordinating and involving stakeholders and investing in capacity building.

‘Without Boundaries'

The boundary crossing of REDD readiness is limited so far. However, SADC has drafted a REDD program with the aim of supporting member states in the engagement of REDD. The SADC program has seven components, such as engagement in negotiations on climate change and REDD issues at an international level, capacity building, establishment of refence emissions levels and harmonizing policies across borders, knowledge management and addressing funding mechanisms for REDD. Deforestation and degradation is without borders - fires don't stop at immigration check-points and illegal logging doesn't stick to country lines. Therefore, it is essential to develop policies that are favorable to neighboring countries and develop relationships that will allow REDD to be effective and successful regionally. The DRC, for instance, has nine different neighboring countries, some involved in REDD and some not. Either way, in order for DRC to be successful with REDD, there must be a sound and fair understanding with those neighbors in regards to forest policies.

Mr. Lesolle wrapped up the meeting saying, "this is the first time Africa, and in particular SADC, has something to share with the whole world. These three economic areas....have great matter what we do today globally to reduce emissions, we will not reach those goals set out, 350 ppm etc., unless we protect the forests in Africa. For the first time, Africa has something to offer."


What's being asked about REDD?

December 2, 2010 

If you walk around the UNFCCC Exhibition area you'll quickly realize that REDD is quite a contentious issue. If the red stickers with a slash through the word REDD didn't grab your attention, then likely the anti-REDD materials handed out at all REDD-related events and posted on walls and exhibition booths probably did. Or even more likely to grab one's attention are the questions being asked at the REDD events. Of course, not all the questions asked are coming from "anti" REDD viewpoints, but it's obvious that there is some serious REDD bird-dogging going on at this COP.

However, whether you're pro-REDD, anti-REDD or undecided there are some essential questions that need be asked (and, much more importantly, answered) if REDD is ever going to work. So far, I've noticed most questions asked at REDD events evolve around the issue of effective stakeholder involvement and protecting indigenous and local peoples rights. Below is a list of popular questions I'm hearing thus far (I'll continue to grow this list):

How will you actually ensure that stakeholders will be involved in the REDD development process and that it won't just be something for show?

When engaging with stakeholders, how can you be sure that they are properly informed about REDD and climate change and understand the issues at hand?

Can you describe effective methods used for engagement with stakeholders?

With changing governments, how can you guarantee that guidelines protecting indigenous peoples rights will be upheld with changing governments?

How can you get society more interested in climate change issues so that they want to engage in discussions on things like REDD?


Global Challenges for REDD+: Land, Benefits, and Effective Stakeholder Participation

December 2, 2010

Yesterday, two different events on REDD took us all around the world - from Cameroon to Paraguay, Tanzania to Indonesia and Congo Basin to the Amazon Basin. The differences are many -main drivers of deforestation, government structures and priorities, and national REDD strategies just to name a few. However, the similarities between projects are also numerous. In fact, throughout all the presentations it became clear that there are three main challenges that every REDD project and every national REDD strategy is struggling to tackle. These are: 1) land rights and tenure issues; 2) equitable benefit sharing mechanisms; and 3) effective stakeholder participation.

These are also the main challenges that CSO's in Tanzania have identified as well. Each challenge is unique to each country, for instance corruption issues vary and land laws differ. However, the fundamental principle of each challenge remains, and this was made clear by all countries: without addressing these three issues, finding workable and effective solutions to these problems, REDD will not be successful.

It is because of this common understanding that the Accra Caucus has formed has developed a set of guidelines that they believe any new agreement on forests under the UNFCCC must adhere to. The guidelines call for an ambitious and legally binding emissions reduction target for developed countries, compliance with social and environmental standards, full and effective participation of stake/rights holders and protection of rights of indigenous and local peoples (Tanzanian CSO position has adopted many similar stances).


Charles Meshack, Executive Director of the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, participated in the panel, "Southern civil society, local community and indigenous peoples perspectives on REDD." Meshack explained that there are many opportunities and threats for REDD in Tanzania, but generally he feels that REDD could offer more than just forest conservation if done right. Opportunities include income for forest management, incentives to move away from slash and burn agriculture (if provided with capacity for alternatives), community strength of control over land and protected ecosystems. Risks include, potential for land grabbing, pressure on food supplies with less farmland, fair distribution of funds, and the list goes on...In summary, Meshack believes that lessons learned should play a very important role in shaping and informing an effective national REDD strategy (that is if the lessons learned prove that REDD can actually work and should).

At the end of both REDD events, there were many questions, most of which were focused on the protection of human rights and natural ecosystems. Meshack was asked about the challenge of having general lands available for outside investment, which could lead to land grabbing and ultimately leave villages out. He was also asked about how REDD projects would avoid plantations (this was in reference to the CDM Green Resources project in Tanzania). Both of his responses took him back to his presentation - these are the risks we see, but we also see the opportunities in them. For example, perhaps the development of REDD could better shape land policies in Tanzania, giving villages more control and security over their land-lessons learned informing policy decisions and REDD implementation.


REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards 

December 1, 2010 

There hasn’t been much yet on the REDD-front during the negotiations.  However, there have been a number of REDD related side-events at the COP, which have drawn a lot of attention, and at times a lot of debate (see picture courtesy of ForumCC).  The following is a summary of an event on National REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards.

The Government of Ecuador, CARE and Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) co-hosted an event last night on the REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards (SES) Initiative.  This initiative, developed by CARE and CCBA, is currently being piloted in Ecuador, Brazil, Indonesia, Nepal and Tanzania, all of which are countries that Joanna Durban of CCBA said have shown “strong government commitment to demonstrating social and environmental” performance of REDD+.  Representatives from Ecuador, Brazil and Indonesia participated in the panel.

The REDD+ social and environmental standards are unique to other safeguard mechanisms, such as the UNFCCC’s, UN-REDD’s and the World Banks’s FCPF’s standards, because they are country-specific and they are designed to do more than just avoid harm, but to actually demonstrate positive social and environmental benefits of REDD.  The standards cover such issues as rights to lands, territories and resources; equitable benefit sharing; long-term livelihood security and well-being of local people; and compliance with national and international laws.  Because they are country-specific, they require the cooperation of government and civil society in actually developing a set of standards by using a set of guidelines provided by REDD+ SES. 

Ecuador’s presentation was particularly noteworthy, because the country is uniquely set up for REDD. A new constitution has specifically mandated the protection of biodiversity and efforts to mitigate climate change, both key aspects of REDD.  It’s REDD+ program, SocioBosque, is designed to prioritize social and environmental benefits, which are cross-cutting issues of the National REDD Strategy.  Ecuador has carried out studies that map out social indicators, and it has also carried out studies that map out ecological hotspots and high carbon areas.  It has then compared the two looking for strong overlap. They aim to have a great deal of civil society participation in the process from start to finish.  Additionally, SocioBosque has developed an application for communities interested in REDD.  Three key elements are considered for an application: 1) a social investment plan; 2) the importance of the ecosystem; and 2) the willingness to enter into a 20 year conservation agreement.

Because Ecuador believes they are already prioritizing social and environmental benefits of REDD+, they find the REDD+ SRS appealing because they can help them demonstrate this to the international community. 

Following the event, I spoke with Rahima Njaidi, Executive Director of MJUMITA in Tanzania, and a member of the REDD+ SES international standards committee.  She said that just recently there were promising statements made by the REDD Task Force on the development of these standards, and there is hope that activities will take off in early 2011.  Originally, CARE and FBD were facilitating this process; however, just a few weeks ago the Clinton Climate Initiative took over faciliation with FBD.  One of the first steps will be to hold a stakeholder workshop to introduce the idea of the standards and to receive feedback from key stakeholders.


Varying Perspectives 

December 1, 2010 

I was fortunate to have a conversation with one of the REDD Task Force members today, and I was encouraged by what he was saying. He said "communities must directly benefit from REDD as they are the managers of the forests," and that both a ‘nested' or national funding approach to REDD could work in Tanzania. He said the purpose of the pilot projects is to inform the National Strategy and implementation process, and that hopefully lessons learned will ultimately shape the overall REDD design.

While these remarks sound promising, some seem a bit contradictory to both what CSO's are being told by some Task Force officials as well as by what has so far been practiced. We're learning from others around the globe that this problem with contradictions or a lack of clarity, is not unique to Tanzania.

CSO's have been told that Tanzania's negotiating position is absolutely opposed to a sub-national approach, yet it seems that not all Task Force members share the same position. CSO's have been continually seeking opportunities to share lessons learned with the National REDD Task Force in an effort to influence the National REDD Strategy, yet the door for dialogue has mostly closed and the strategy has remained private. It seems that some key negotiating decisions - decisions that can have serious impacts for projects on the ground - are being made before the pilot projects can share their lessons learned, which would better inform decisions. For example, many of the pilot projects that are already being implemented - projects that are supposedly assisting the development of Tanzania's REDD Readiness process - are designed to have different funding options, yet most developing countries, including Tanzania, have declared positions that don't seem to allow for flexibility.

One solution to these varying perspectives and questions would be to get all these stakeholders at the table together so that such matters can be clarified. Therefore, CSO representatives here in Cancun are hoping we can meet with the entire Tanzanian delegation - negotiators and party representatives. Without strong communications between party members, Task Force members, negotiators and civil society, things will remain unclear.


Update on REDD+ at the Negotiating Table (or not yet at the negotiating table)

November 30 

REDD negotiations have yet to begin in Cancun as the REDD drafting group first must decide upon the negotiating text. There are essentially three options for the text, the first being the text that was almost agreed upon in Copenhagen, which has since been modified in Bonn and Tianjin. There were so many suggested changes to the Copenhagen text in Bonn that the Chair of the REDD+ Group decided to create an option 2, which was also modified in Tianjin. Finally, the chairman introduced new text, option 3, which could offer a viable option; however, it will face the challenge that it was not text coming out of negotiations. Whatever the text, rumor has it that even though they might start informally meeting tonight (i.e. closed door), they likely won't start REDD negotiations until next week as most participants in the REDD Drafting Group are also working on LULUCF, which will probably be addressed first.

TZ booth 


Waiting...and more waiting? What's to come of Cancun

November 29, 2010 

It's the first morning of COP 16 and climate activists, NGO representatives, journalists, government officials and members of delegations gear up for an exciting, and long, two weeks ahead. And as the 10:00 welcoming ceremony takes place, people wait...and wait...and wait, in traffic. Perhaps the traffic jam - which will supposedly only worsen throughout the week - is representative of what's to come - more waiting. However, unlike COP 15 where expectations were high for reaching an international binding agreement, people here in Cancun are already talking about next year's COP in South Africa, and so they're already prepared to wait.

The International Institute for Environment and Development explains the slow-moving process in their publication "Climate Watchlist: key issues for Cancun negotiations." It writes, "the breadth and depth of disputes makes it highly unlikely that a binding agreement will be reached in Cancun." The main issues to be disputed at this COP are: shared vision; adaptation; climate finance; technology transfer; reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD); and post-2012 emissions reduction targets. There is hope that REDD will be one issue in Cancun where a decision is reached; however, challenging issues, such as financing and rights of indigenous and forest-dependant people remain.

Apparently, Tanzania representatives might play a key role in reaching a decision on REDD in Cancun. In a pre-Cancun meeting held in Dar es Salaam last week, the Government of Tanzania handed out a "Brief on Climate Change and How Tanzania is Building the Momentum Towards Cancun Climate Change Negotiations," where it stated that Tanzania will speak on behalf of Least Developed countries on issues of REDD+. The brief says "there is common position in most of the issues under discussion within developing countries...on the need for financial, technological and capacity building support, how to address methodological leakage, non-permanency, additionally, equity and human rights", but there are different views as to how REDD should be financed. LDC's "do not prefer the market based mechanism because it creates a loop hole for developed countries to offset GHG emission reduction to developing countries by buying cheap carbon credits generated by forests in developing countries through sequestration. There is still no common position for G77 and China on this issue..."

REDD+ - Mainstreaming Gender in REDD

November 29, 2010 


Today Norway sponsored an event co-hosted by WEDO, IUCN and WOCAN, "REDD+ - Women in REDD+". ¬¬¬A representative from the Norwegian delegation opened the panel discussion by explaining the importance of including gender in the international dialogue and negotiations on REDD. "Gender has to a large extent been overlooked," he explains, "and it must not be forgotten in the negotiations surrounding REDD+". He concluded by saying that these national REDD projects will not succeed if forest dependent people and the forest managers are not involved in the process, and a lot of times those people are women.

Another panelist described the ‘bottom-line' issues where gender mainstreaming is essential for the success and fairness of a REDD project: 1) women should be involved in the planning and implementation of REDD; 2) Benefits must be shared equitably to both men and women; 3) There must be a focus on capacity building in regards to gender throughout all REDD processes. The panelist used an example in Shinyanga, Tanzania, where an improved forest management/PES project led to women receiving more income for their family, traveling less for fuel wood, and providing increased educational opportunities for girls as educational facilities were better supported in the community.

Raja Jarrah, REDD Technical Adviser for CARE International's Hifadhi ya Misitu ya Asili (HIMA) project in Zanzibar, spoke about how mainstreaming gender in REDD, using the HIMA project as a case study. HIMA has an explicit gender objective in the project design, and has therefore, focused a lot of energy on understanding the various challenges REDD might pose for women and how the HIMA project can overcome those challenges. So far, some of the main challenges that the HIMA project has identified are the following:

• How do you make the income-generating aspect of REDD gender sensitive?
• Awareness raising and capacity building on gender issues is already a challenge faced in development projects, and REDD is adding another layer.
• Involving women in the practical aspects of a REDD project - one goal of the HIMA project - can be culturally challenging.
• There are many micro-economic, small-scale loan projects in Zanzibar and many of them are focused on women. However, the main income generating activity that these women's groups carry out are wood-cutting activities. How will this REDD project fairly address this issue?

Overall, the panel stressed the need to involve women in all aspects of REDD, from planning to implementation. Additionally, the group is pushing for an international adoption of mainstreaming gender across REDD. Although gender is mentioned in the REDD LCA text, it should be strengthened and made more clear that gender mainstreaming must become a part of any REDD agreement and any REDD project.


REDD in Tanzania: